WASHINGTON – In a global slap at Russia over this month’s poison attack in Great Britain, the United States and more than 20 other countries moved Monday to expel more than 100 diplomats and other officials.
The United States announced it was booting out 60 Russians and closing the government’s consulate in Seattle. “This action is a response to Russia’s use of a military-grade chemical weapon in the United Kingdom,” White House spokesman Raj Shah said.
The Russian expulsions “make the United States safer by reducing Russia’s ability to spy on Americans, and to conduct covert operations and threaten America’s national security,” Shah said.
The expelled Russians and their families have a week to leave the USA.
The closing of the Russian consulate in Seattle is “due to its proximity to one of our submarine bases and Boeing,” said White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders.
The global sanctions are in response to the poisoning of ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripaland his daughter on British soil. The United Kingdom and others accused the Kremlin of orchestrating the attack, which Russian President Vladimir Putin denied.
Skripal and his daughter Yulia remain in critical condition in a hospital, and British Prime Minister Theresa May told Parliament on Monday that “they may never recover fully.”
Canada, Ukraine and members of the European Union were among the countries that planned to expel “more than 100 Russian intelligence officers,” May said.
“This is the largest collective expulsion of Russian intelligence officers in history,” May said.
Trump administration officials pointed out that the United States signed a joint statement with the U.K., France, and Germany blaming Russia for the Skripal attack. The United States cited the poisoning when it applied sanctions on Russia over cyber activities during the presidential election.